People have been talking about the downfall of Derek Jeter since 2008. 2009 of course threw everyone off, but after a poor 2010 season it seemed like he would be all but done in 2011. However an offseason adjustment to his swing had a few optimistic about 2011.
ABANDONED WORK: Jeter worked with Kevin Long in the offseason to make mechanical adjustments to his swing so he could prolong his career. The new swing didn’t exactly work and Jeet abandoned it almost immediately.
FIRST HALF SLUMP: Over the first 62 games of the season Jeter had become a different hitter, one that doesn’t hit for average and had almost no power as shown by a .260 average and a .649 OPS.
HITTING THE DL: Jeter fought to stay off the DL in mid-June, but it turned out to be the best thing for him. He got to work with Gary Denbo, one of the men who was responsible for teaching a young Jeter his swing, and the results paid off.
SECOND HALF RESURGENCE: From Jeter’s return from the DL until the end of the season, 69 games. Jeter was absolutely on fire. During that splan he hit .331 and his OPS was a healthy .831. Jeter went back to hitting the ball with authority and it seemed like 2009 all over again while we were watching his resurgence.
DIMINISHED RANGE: After a couple of years where he improved his range, Jeter appears to be losing it again. His -6.5 UZR was his lowest since 2007 and the second year in a row it dropped.
VERDICT: Considering 2010 and how the first half of 2011 went, Jeter couldn’t have finished the season any better. Still, there is a clear distinction between Jeter now and Jeter back then. He’s not the same player he was and probably never will be again. However, as long as he can hit .300 he will still be a strong offensive shortstop and will continue to contribute to the team.
GOING FORWARD: I expect Jeter to hit .300 next year, but his power, range, and speed will continue to get worse. Because of that it is hard to imagine him playing shortstop in three years although where exactly he will move to is hard to say as he won’t exactly make a good DH and has never, ever played a single out in the outfield, even in Little League. The 2012 Yankees might not have to worry about that, but eventually it will catch up to them. He should probably be moved out of the lead-off spot soon too.